Drums, Bees and War in Ukraine
As I prepare for teaching my class tomorrow - Module 8 of the Sacred Frame Drum's Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing Power with the Shift Network, it's, of course, hard to think of much beyond what is happening in Ukraine and the neighboring countries. My heart goes out to all the children, families, and animals affected by this unfolding tragedy.
My husband's maternal Grandmother was Ukrainian. I have often heard stories of Ukraine, seen pictures, admired the embroidery, and tasted the flavors of traditional Ukrainian cooking.
Many years ago, while studying the cross-cultural history of the sacred frame drum, I came across the traditional Ukrainian form of a frame drum called the Бубон - Buben in Ukrainian.
A fascinating connection is that the word Buben is related etymologically to the English word 'bee,' to 'bambharas', meaning a breed of bee in Indo-European, Bambara the common name for the Giant Asian honeybee and to the Greek βομβύλη meaning a breed of bees.
Is it a strange coincidence that the frame drum was once known as the instrument of the 'bee priestesses' of antiquity, that the Ukrainian name for the frame drum is etymologically related to the word for honeybee and that Ukraine is one of the most significant areas in the world for beekeeping?
Now, with so many violently displaced throughout Ukraine, what will become of the beekeepers, the traditional frame drummers, and the honeybee apiaries?
With war, so many innocent lives are lost and shattered, and cultural riches and ancestral wisdom are disrupted, destroyed, forbidden, and often forgotten.
Yet the light of ancestral remembrance is a powerfully enduring thing, and its embers glow in even the darkest story unfolding.
I had hoped to visit Ukraine one day to hear about the legends and rhythms of the Buben. Now I watch scenes of those fleeing their homelands mostly empty-handed and bear witness to this immense madness.
The agony of those forced to leave their homes and fathers, their brothers and sons, lovers, and extended family members, along with every comfort and sense of external stability, is heart rendering to anyone and everyone willing to pause and join in the solidarity of human feeling and collective grieving. And to those staying behind to fight insanity, ignorance, and greed for the fundamental human rights to sovereignty, peace, and freedom - It's hard to begin to imagine…
Still, the light of internal freedom and timeless ancestral remembrance will never die out, and each carries the infinite rhythms of life forward with every heartbeat and breath.
This light of timeless remembrance sometimes takes the shape of a mythical golden thread...
Golden threads tether those that weave stories through deep time and embroider together the wisdom of worlds risen and fallen and cultures that seem to come and go but really live on - sometimes hidden for a time - buried in the soil and excavated from within the chambers of the heart and mythic mind and found again within the substratum of the bones and soul of those who are born to remember.
I picked up the tattered end of one such golden thread, and as it unfurled, I found it wove into the work and research of a Ukrainian man named Levchenko Andrii. Levchenko has been researching the old ways of the Ukrainian Buben. He has lovingly documented the stories and memories of the old time frame drum players of Ukraine.
I don't know where Levchenko Andrii is now...but I hope he and his beloveds are safe and sound and that they are together again one day, drinking the honey wine elixirs, crowned in flowers and breaking bread to the rhythms and hum of the Buben.
Blessed be, and so may it be.
May peace prevail in Ukraine.
To learn more about Levchenko Andrii and his incredible work documenting the history and traditions of the Ukrainian Frame Drum the Buben - Please visit:
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/levchenko.andrii
Top: Levchenko Andrii
Lower right: Unknown
Lower Middle: Levchenko Andrii collection
Lower Left: @Danuta Naugolnyk та її Baba Foto